The 30 Most Iconic Horror Villains

by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Entertainment Columnist


Published in Entertainment on 25th July, 2018


Horror lovers around the world can easily debate which horror villains are the most iconic. There are so many great ones out there! If you're looking for an authority, this is our list of the 50 most iconic villains in horror movies, as well as some lesser-known bonuses!

Stephen Price - The House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Those of us who enjoyed the horror films the 90s had to offer may have watched The House on Haunted Hill. In this film, Stephen Price is an eccentric millionaire known for his terrifying amusement parks. In the earlier version of the film, made in 1959, the character goes by a different name and is played by Vincent Price. The newer name of the character, played by Geoffrey Rush, can be seen as a nod to Vincent Price, known to be one of the horror greats.

stephen price

While Stephen Price himself isn't the most troublesome villain in this film, he is the one who brings several unwitting innocents into dangerous circumstances. When the ghosts of murdered psychiatric patients start running wild, he learns that playing with fear can only go so far before things get too real.

Captain Spaulding - House of 1,000 Corpses (2003)

While he may not be as well known as many of the other horror villains in this list, few who have seen Captain Spaulding are able to forget him. Played by Sid Haig, Spaulding is one clown you don't want to run into on an empty street!

Unlike many other clown villains, we also get a good look at what's under the clown makeup in these Rob Zombie films, and it's just as terrifying. From murder to taking joy in making small children afraid of clowns forever, Captain Spaulding holds a spot in our hearts, though he may not have one himself!

Pyramid Head - Silent Hill (2006)

Whether you're a fan of the games, the movies or both, there's no denying that Pyramid Head is a truly frightening figure. If you've seen the movie, then there's at least one scene involving this character that will make your blood run cold with fear.

pyramid head

Among the multitudes of creepy creatures in these films, Pyramid Head is one that gives you the feeling you'll never truly escape his wrath. Another interesting bit of trivia is that while many recognize this character as Pyramid Head, he's also known as the Red Pyramid. Be sure to check the Silent Hill films out if you haven't already!

Babadook - The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook was introduced in a newer film, which makes it an even bigger deal that it has made the list of most iconic. There are many who have been terrified by this being's black top hat and toothy grin. On a deeper level, Mr. Babadook can also be seen as a representation of grief.

Between the fears that Babadook himself bring to the screen and the uncomfortable atmosphere set in the overall film, you can't deny that the Babadook is definitely a dream-haunting character. Especially since you can't get rid of him!

Pluto - The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Those who are familiar with the original version of this film, you may recognize Pluto as the mutant played by Michael Berryman. For those who don't, this character is easy to tell apart by his sheer brutality. From his creepy smile to his ability to get extremely violent very quickly, there's no arguing just how terrifying Pluto is.

pluto

While it could be argued that there are other mutants in the Hills Have Eyes films that are creepier (such as Big Brain), there is little this character won't do to get what he wants. As a result, he's definitely the most frightening mutant in these films!

The Creeper - Jeeper's Creepers (2001)

If you want to keep all your body parts, this is a villain you'll want to stay far away from. Though he's only awake once every 23 years, he really knows how to rack up the death toll during when he's come out of his slumber. During that time, you'll want to be as far away as you can because this creature can walk, drive and even fly to his target.

Another aspect that gives The Creeper an extra level of spookiness lies within the weapons he chooses. Namely, the throwing stars with some key decorations he picks up from his victims. After all, waste not want not!

Asami Yamazaki - Audition (1999)

Rejection can be painful for a lot of us, but for Asami Yamazaki, it cuts so much deeper. Having been abused as a young girl, this character can't help but be driven into a rage by anyone who reminds her of her abusive stepfather.

What makes Asami truly frightening is her preference for torture over a straight death. Many of us have seen plenty of slasher flicks with quick, albeit painful deaths. Instead, this horror villain chooses to make the pain last as long as possible for her victims.

Patrick Bateman - American Psycho (2000)

Though he might have the appearance of a typical business man, there's a lot more to this character that will surely make your blood run cold. On top of greed and an overall bad attitude, Bateman is also plagued with thoughts of stone cold murder, necrophilia and even cannibalism.

american psycho

Played by Christian Bale, Bateman is a truly brutal character driven by a sickening need for chaos and bloodshed. He revels in the dual life he lives where he is both a sadistic maniac and a successful business man, but soon finds that he might not be able to escape the luxury.

The Blob - The Blob (1988)

There are few who don't recognize this infamous horror being. After all, who can forget a giant pink mass that consumes every living thing in front of it? The Blob films began their creation in 1958 and was later remade into what many would consider a horror classic in 1988.

Though it may seem like a cheesy horror villain, the concept of an unstoppable mess that easily consumes just about anything is quite horrifying! If you haven't scoped out this horrific creature, it's recommended for any true horror fan. Just don't let it touch you!

Cujo - Cujo (1983)

Who can forget the intrepid story of a lovable dog? Except rather than rescuing humans like many other lovable film canines, this one is tearing them to bits. Not even his own loving family are safe from the terror this dog brings upon an entire town.

cujo

It's creatures like Cujo who remind us of fears that exist in the real world, such as rabies. Much like the many zombie films out there, Cujo represents the deep fear of having no control and having to put down a friend (or pet ) who was once close to you. You'll want to keep an eye on your critters if you watch this one!

The Graboids - Tremors (1990)

The imagery of unwitting humans being sucked into the ground by something unseen is one that many of us recall. It's certainly one that can leave you afraid of the very ground itself! Whether you're a fan of horror, sci-fi or just Kevin Bacon, the Tremors films are certainly worth a watch.

However, keep in mind that you might end up afraid of everything around you, considering that these creatures are not only wiggling their way underground, but also walking and even flying! There's really no escaping a graboid once it's after you!

Count Orlok - Nosferatu (1922)

If you don't recognize the name "Count Orlok", then it's likely you do at least recognize his face. This is one of the early entries into the world of horror. While at the time, Count Orlok was thought of as a cheap ripoff to the well-known Count Dracula, he's currently regarded as one of the horror greats.

One of the interesting aspects of Count Orlok as a character is that the design of a vampire was different from what we see today. Rather than long canines, it's his middle teeth that are elongated, but don't let that fool you into thinking he's just a goofy guy!

The Poltergeist - Poltergeist (1982)

If horror films invloving children really get your goat, then the Poltergeist is a horror villain you'll love to hate. There are many who recognize this as one of the earlier films in which child endangerment became a topic or horror interest.

the poltergeist

It's that aspect that makes the ghostly presence in these films so terrifying. It's a being that finds a young target and talks to them in ways only they can understand. As a result, everyone else in the film not only has to suffer the wrath of a poltergeist, but also a lost child!

Zombies - Many of Our Horror Favorites!

There are so many different kinds of zombies in so many different kinds of films that they absolutely had to make this list. From the shuffling hordes in Night of the Living Dead and the 1978 version of Dawn of the Dead, to the speedy terrors in 28 Days Later, there are truly zombies of all kinds.

One of the prevalent theories as to why these creatures are so terrifying is that they hold a mirror up to human kind. As a result, we see just how awful humans can be under the right (or wrong) circumstances.

Norman Bates - Psycho (1960)

One of the earliest horror villains that most people remember is Norman Bates. These days, this name might bring to mind that confused young star of Bates Motel. However, those who have dug deeper will remember the 1960's film, Psycho.

From time to time, there are horror villains who are deeply entwined with their mothers. Two such villains are Jason from the Friday the 13th films and Norman Bates, who is driven by his mother to murder any woman he finds attractive. Through this complicated Oedipus-style story, we find that there is no one behind the insanity than Normal and his madness.

Pennywise - IT (1990)

Though many may recognize Pennywise to be the name of a terrifying clown, fans know that he's actually far worse than that. Also known as IT, this villain is actually a race entirely his own, able to transform into just about anything he desires.

pennywise

What makes Pennywise especially terrifying is his ability to take on forms that are well known and even loved by his victims, making it nearly impossible for them to tell who around them is safe and who isn't. That said, he is most often found in the form of a clown, which has driven the clown-based fears for many who grew up watching this film.

The Crypt Keeper - Tales From the Crypt (1989)

As a bonus, we've decided to include a well-known face from a horror series, rather than a film. The antics of this decaying man make his face and voice one that is easily recognized by viewers of all ages.

Though he got his start in a magazine, The Crypt Keeper is best known for his puns and jokes revolving around the horror stories that appear in each episode. Even with his terrifying visage, he strives to keep the atmosphere light and remind viewers that even horror can be funny.

Bruce - Jaws (1975)

From the film that made people afraid of the ocean, this terrifying shark is a well-known classic villain in the world of horror. While it has no name in the films themselves, the animatronic shark was lovingly nicknamed "Bruce" by the filmmakers.

At a massive three tons, this was one shark who didn't fear mankind. Instead, he sought to be the highest in the food chain by snacking on those who dared cross into his turf as well as some who tried to seek refuge on their boats. Bruce is a shark that was so well loved, several Jaws sequels have since been created in attempts to recreate the terror.

Chucky - Child's Play (1988)

Like the earlier mentioned IT, Chucky was yet another film that sought to take something innocent and loved by children and turn it into something that would give them nightmares for years. This villain makes his initial appearance in the first Child's Play as the murderer Charles Lee Ray.

chucky

From that point on, this doll becomes a horror for just about anyone who comes into contact with him. Through the initial film and several sequels, this wise-talking doll has proved himself to be a truly notable villain.

Ghostface - Scream (1996)

Whether it's from the initial Scream films, or the later parodies created from it, there are few who don't recognize Ghostface. Without a doubt, he's a slasher classic that makes viewers terrified to pick up the phone for fear of hearing that scratchy voice on the other end.

A favorite among those who enjoy slasher films, this is a villain who tends to prefer the intimacy of using a knife. Stabbing and slicing his way through rowdy teenagers, Ghostface is just as entertaining as he is terrifying. Some viewers may not even know who to cheer for when watching this villain do his work.

Jigsaw - Saw (2004)

In recent years, the Saw films have taken the world by storm and introduced the idea that horror can come from more than nonsense killing and torture. John Kramer shows us that a single man can change (or ruin) the lives of many with his attempts at rehabilitating them through life-threatening scenarios.

jigsaw

Those of us who are familiar with the Saw films know John Kramer by his actual name, but for many he is known as Jigsaw, due to the outlines of puzzle pieces he removes from the skins of his victims. On top of that, who could forget the adorable tricycle-riding puppet who asks if you're interested in playing a game?

Jack Torrance - The Shining (1980)

Lovers of horror are typically familiar with the Shining, and even those who hasn't watched the films may be aware of the famous imagery of Jack Nicholson's face peeking through a torn down door.

Mr. Torrance is a horror villain who shows us how even a loving family man can lose his cool in certain conditions. He turns from simple caretaker to ax-wielding maniac in what seems like no time at all, and no one is safe. Not even his own beloved family members.

Hannibal Lecter - Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Not all horror villains are rampant killing machines with no sense of style or class. Hannibal Lecter is a character well known for his sophisticated behavior and appearance as well as his ability to snap at any moment. Few can forget the image of Anthony Hopkins strapped into a protective mask and straitjacket.

hannibal lecter

While he may be a horrifying villain himself, this is one horror villain who actually helps the film protagonists to capture those who are nearly as awful as himself, such as Buffalo Bill. Never before has a classy, elegant man been so frightening as Hannibal the Cannibal.

Michael Myers - Halloween (1978)

When it comes to the most frightening slashers out there, few are able to best Michael Myers of the Halloween films. Though he may once have been an ordinary boy, from the time of his first murder, Michael becomes a deeply disturbed and dangerous being. The mask he wears is widely recognizable in today's society, as he is one of the absolutely classic horror villains.

Villains like Myers bring a whole new layer to our concept of Halloween and the darkness surrounding the holiday. Consequently, he is among the top 10 in this list of the most iconic horror villains out there.

Pinhead - Hellraiser (1987)

Few faces are more recognizable than that of this twisted Cenobite. Created by Clive Barker, the very image of Pinhead is designed to provoke fear in the eyes of every viewer. What makes Pinhead even more interesting is the idea that he is neither truly good or evil.

pinhead

Instead, he plays the role of a judge, improving the lives of sun and wreaking utter chaos on others. While there are changes to the character's motivations over the span of the Hellraiser films, few can forget the cold, stonelike presence he takes on during the early films.

Regan MacNeil - The Exorcist (1973)

While Regan is seen as one of the most notable horror villains by many, it wasn't really her fault that she became such. Through the act of a demonic possession, the face of a sweet young girl becomes one that makes the blood of many run cold to this day.

Due to the popularity of the character as well as The Exorcist films, films depicting demonic possessions have become more and more popular over time. Such films even include spoofs of the character's portrayal to bring a lining of humor to the dark circumstances. If you're one of the few who missed out on this character, it's well worth taking a step back in time to check out the film.

Jason & Pamela Vorhees - Friday the 13th - (1980)

This is a dual-villain section, as both Jason and Pamela have played terrifying roles in the Friday the 13th films. While the horror started with Pamela and her twisted visions of a son who lost his life due to the ignorance of the camp counselors who were supposed to be watching him.

In later films, Jason takes on the act of revenge himself. This silent, incredibly deadly killer stalks the grounds of Camp Crystal Lake, murdering anyone he sees fit. Unlike some other popular villains, this isn't one who comes with a lot of quips.

The Deadites - The Evil Dead - (1981)

One type of horror villain with a whole lot of personality that has recently been resurrected is the Deadite. These zombie-like beings initially showed up in The Evil Dead alongside star Bruce Campbell, and few other villains could terrify or entertain as well as these characters do!

the evil dead

While they have an appearance similar to zombies, Deadites have a lot more going on. They speak, laugh and even make jokes at the expense of their victims. On top of that, they can possess just about anything, from people to body parts and even trees!

Leatherface - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

If the sound of a chainsaw starting up doesn't make your skin crawl, you just aren't watching the right movies! From the time these movies got started in the 70s, there have been few horror villains quite as brutal as Leatherface.

Not only does this guy have no problem whatsoever ripping through just about anyone, hanging them on meat hooks and removing any body part he so chooses, he's also known for wearing the faces of his victims. Though he may not have the class of Hannibal Lecter or the sophistication of Patrick Bateman, this is one villain who keeps on taking!

Freddy Krueger - Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

This is it. The one and only most iconic horror villain in the history of horror, according to this list. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't recognize the striped sweater or claw-filled glove this villain is known for.

freddy krueger

Making his debut in 1984, Freddy showed us all that there is nowhere we are safe, not even as we peacefully sleep in our own beds. In addition, he keeps audiences laughing with his snarky quips, dark attempts at humor and the ability to be cartoonish and terrifying all at once.

"Should Be" Bonuses!

As a special bonus for the horror fans out there who are always looking for the next film to catch, here is an extra list of horror villains who should be among the most iconic, but aren't quite well-known enough to make the list. If you don't know them already, check them out!

Stitches - Stitches (2012)

If you're a fan of terrifying clowns, you can't go wrong with Stitches. This campy clown seeks revenge on a group of children responsible for his death. Not only can he get the job done, but he also finds some very interesting (and funny) ways to take down his victims.

George W. Buckman - 2001 Maniacs (2005)/ 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams

If you're a fan of horror, then the names Robert Englund and Bill Moseley are ones you may have heard at least once. In 2001 Maniacs, the role of Mayor Buckman is played by Englund while in the sequel, the role is covered by Moseley, and the character is equally terrifying portrayed by both!

Josef - Creep (2014)

If you prefer a creepier film rather than one loaded with gore and terror, then Creep is a great way to go. The villain in this film, known as Josef, shows you just how unnerving a seemingly ordinary human can be, reminding us all to be wary of who we let into out lives.

May - May (2002)

Loneliness can be difficult for us all, but it's especially problematic for May. As a result, she decides to create her own friend using the parts of people she likes best. May is definitely a villain that you may not be able to decide whether to pity or fear!

Dr. Heiter - Human Centipede (2009)

Cold, calculating and willing to do just about anything to bring his experiments into reality, Dr. Heiter is a doctor you'll want to stay far away from. It's very likely that there are even horror villains in this list who would be disturbed by the actions and desires of this man!

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